Gather students on the rug using a preferred classroom management technique. I like to use my “Stop, look, listen.” The students stop what they are doing, look at me and listen for the direction. I usually preface the direction with, “When I say go…” This reminds the students to listen to the whole direction before moving to follow the directive.
In this case I would say, “When I say go I would like you to clear your space, push in your chair and go take a spot on your dot. Walking feet go.” By saying walking feet I am reminding the students to use walking feet in the classroom to ensure safe movement between areas.
When all of the students are seated on their dot in the rug area I ask them to stand in a circle and join hands. We swing our arms and do some actions to the song Earth, by Betsy Q.
After the song is finished I have the students sit back down on their spots on the rug. Spot on Dot Song
The reason I chose this song is because it gets the students thinking about the planet as a whole. and actions we should take to preserve it for future generations. This introduction gets my students thinking about what they do or could do to be part of the environmental movement thus connecting them to the activity we are about to do.
“The book for today is about an animal that really needs us to take care of the Earth because our actions are affecting their habitat. The title is The Polar Bears Home. The book is written by Lara Bergen and illustrated by Vincent Nguyen.”
During reading we discuss any new vocabulary words we come across, such as: green house gas, toxins, pollution, etc.
We also discuss how the cubs might be feeling without their mother and how she might be feeling having lost them. This discussion helps introduce the students to inferencing.
“How do you think the cubs are feeling sitting all alone on the ice floe?”
“Why do you think they are sad, lonely and scared?”
“How do you think the mother polar bear is feeling?”
“Why would she be worried?”
After we have finished reading the book I ask the students to think about the main character and her actions at the end of the story.
“At one of your stations today I am going to ask you to think about what actions you can take to take care of the Earth which in turn helps out not only our local environment but also habitats far away.”
“Once you have thought of a way in which you can help the Earth I would like you to use that idea to complete the writing prompt, “One thing I can do to help the Earth is…””
“When you have finished writing your action down I would like you to illustrate your work to reinforce your message. Your illustration could also be used as a picture clue by some readers.”
“Everything you need to complete your work is at the station. There are pencils for writing, crayons for your pictures, the date stamp and also some books to help you with ideas in case you have trouble with coming up with one of your own. Please remember to put your name on your work or where will you find it?”
“That’s right in the recycling.”
“Does anyone have any questions?”
Once I feel the group has a good grasp of the instructions I send the students over one table group at a time to maintain a safe and orderly classroom. It usually sounds like this;
“Table number one let’s go have some polar bear fun.
Table number two, you know what to do.
Table number three, hope you were listening to me, and
Table number four, you shouldn’t be here anymore.”
Allow the students 15 minutes to work on this activity. Set a visual timer and remind the students to look at the timer so they will use their time wisely.
WHY WRITE TO INFORM?
Students need to practice writing information to share with others for two reasons. First they can share what they know from experience, and secondly they can share information they have learned through reading or discussions.
When the time is up I blow two short blasts on my whistle and use the “Stop, look listen” technique mentioned above. “When I say go, I would like you to clean up your space remembering to take care of our things, push in your chair, and use walking feet to go and take a spot on your dot.”
Students know to put completed work in the finished work bin. Any work that is not completed goes into the under construction bin and can be completed throughout the day whenever the student finds he/she has spare time or it will be completed during free choice center time.
When the students are seated I tell them that their exit slip for today is to read their writing work to the class. We discuss how a good speaker would read to the class, and how a good listener would act while the speaker is presenting his/her work.
“Today I am going to pull out pieces of work from the finished work bin and when your name is called it will be your job to come up in front of the class and present your work to the audience. Now if I am up the front speaking I am going to show you three different ways to present your work and you tell me which one works better.”
I stand up in from of the class and I read with a mumbling voice with the paper in front of my face.
Next I read with a shouting voice and moving all over the place.
Finally I read with a clear voice, the paper chest level and I stand in one place.
When I am finished I sit back down and ask the students, “Okay which one was the best way to present my work?”
“Right Ava; the last one was the best. Please tell us why you thought that.”
After she has finished explaining why the last example was the best I say, “Okay just as the speaker has a job so too does the audience. What do you think their job is?”
“Your right Justin; the audience should sit still, have their eyes on the speaker and listen respectfully. That was a very good answer.”
“Okay, let’s see who is going first.”
Once a student has read their writing piece, they are able to use the hand sanitizer and go to get their snack.
For this assignment I use the Help the Earth Writing Prompt Checklist to go over the student’s work. I will make any notes from my observation of the student’s speaking abilities from when he/she presented her work to the class. Then I will attach the checklist to the work and place it in the student’s collection portfolio.
Looking at the student’s work with the checklist helps me to stay focused on the objective of the assignment. I am looking to see if a student used correct grammar skills, practiced phonetic spelling and if the writing piece made sense. Did the student support their writing with an illustration and is the work neat and tidy?
The checklist helps me because the work sample provides me with evidence of students learning as to whether the student has met the objectives or not. The checklist helps to convey information to the student’s family as to how well they are doing in class, and finally it helps the student by letting him/her know how he/she did and if there are areas where he/she could improve.
Make a polar bear picture using oatmeal to provide texture. Black beans are used for the eyes and nose. We discuss how the eyes are black like wearing sunglasses to protect the eyes from the polar sun’s rays, and the nose is black due to the polar bears black skin to absorb heat.
Play the math game Polar Racing Bears. Students race their bears using a 1,2,3 dot die as we discuss how many spaces they have moved; how many spaces they have left to go, and what number they need to win.
Play the Polar Bear sight word game. Students have to try and get mother bear back to her cubs jumping from ice floe to ice floe. I took the basic idea and pieces from the website Making Learning Fun and morphed it to the game I wanted it to be.
Later in the day we read the book The Three R’s: Reuse, Reduce, Recycle by Nuria Roca and illustrated by Rosa M. Curto. This book reinforces the message of the book from the morning’s focus lesson and gives the students more information on actions they can take to help the Earth; gives them a feeling of being empowered to make a change.